8 02 2012

A couple of years ago, I was talking with a man who was a long distance runner.  When I first saw the guy, I could tell right away that he was a runner.  When he first saw me, he could tell I was not.

Because I am not much of a runner, I really didn’t understand why people would be driven to run.  For me, it is one of the least enjoyable things in life.  But as I talked with this man, it was obvious that he loved to do it.  He thoroughly loved to run.  It inspired me to find out why.

As we talked, he said something that really struck me.  He said, “Long distance running is more of a competition against yourself than it is competition against everyone else.  The one who wins the battle with themselves is more likely to win the race.  Running is all about discipline of the mind.  You have to be mentally tough.”

No wonder I suck at running.

In almost every race, there is a place where the race is won, or lost… and it almost never happens at the end.  It usually happens in the middle somewhere, when the intensity of the race is at it’s lowest point.  In a marathon, it is between miles 8-18.  The race has been going for a time, but the finish is still a long way off.  In those moments, the mentally tough push through and stay intense, while those who lack that toughness start to lose their intensity and fall off.  Winners are made in the middle… most of the time, when no one is watching.

Paul often uses the imagery of a race to describe the life we live as followers of Christ.  He wrote this to the Corinthian church, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (1 Cor. 9:24)  His encouragement was to make sure that every day counted for Kingdom gain.  Every day was to be run in such a way as to achieve victory, with that goal in mind.

Friend, I want to encourage you today to be disciplined and mentally tough.  Bring your best for God’s kingdom today!  I know that we are in a life long race of running with Christ, but today is a day that needs your whole heart and your greatest intensity.  It is so tempting to relax and think that when we get closer to the end, then we can really start to run.  But  often, by that time, we have fallen so far behind that we have missed our opportunity.

And what must we be intense about?  The foundational things.  Loving God, Loving Each Other, and Loving the world.  Do these things, and you will win… because that is what a fully devoted follower of Christ is running after!

So today, run as to win the prize.  Be intense.  Be disciplined.  Be tough.

Give your all to God… Let’s Win!



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